Sunday, January 20, 2013

The In-Service

Courtesy of
If any of you have ever watch any medical TV show in the last decade, whether it's Grey's Anatomy, Scrubs, or Emily Owens MD, etc... then you have probably at seen the residents taking an exam. In surgery, this exam is called the ABSITE, or American Board of Surgery In Training Examination. This exam takes place every year, at the end of January. And it is taken by every surgery resident in the country (or every resident in an accredited program). There are two levels. The Junior Level (for first and second year residents) and the Senior Level (for third through fifth year residents).

This exam, while designed to give diagnostic feedback on the where the resident is weak in knowledge, can cause all sorts of anxiety. The test lasts about 4 hours and covers any and everything that a surgery resident is supposed to know. However, the the anxiety comes with how one performs -- each level of resident is grading against all the other residents in the country at their level (i.e. a second year at Hopkins, UCSF, and U of Miami, are graded against each other). This results in a percentile score and a raw score (not affect by how everyone else does). The one that matters the most... the percentile score, especially if you want to go into a competitive fellowship (i.e. pediatric surgery).

So, this month all my free time is being dedicated to studying... and trying to retain everything that I've forgotten over the past year (and from medical school). Countless hours of reading review books and guides, cramming in questions between seeing patients in the CCA and post-call, while trying not to fall asleep. Caffeinated days off spent at the coffee shop, and anxiety filled nights while trying to remember what was learned. Praying for the days to go by slowly, while anxiously awaiting the day after the test, when there will be a huge burden lifting off the shoulders.

If you happen to run into a exhausted looking surgery resident, which injected eyes and empty cups of coffee in front of them, don't judge them on their haggard appearance, just remember we're striving to be the best doctors we came be, at least in the academic sense.

And now it's time for me to get back to hitting the books...

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